The US State Department has approved the potential sale of 18 CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopters to Israel for an estimated cost of $3.4 billion.
Israel requested to buy the helicopters and associated equipment after selecting the CH-53K as a successor to its CH-53D Yasur fleet of helicopters in February this year.
Back then, the country’s defense ministry said the number of helicopters it would need was yet to be determined, with reports indicating that the number could be around 20 units.
According to details from a Defense Security Cooperation Agency statement, the proposed sale includes the helicopters, up to 60 T408-GE-400 engines, embedded global positioning system/inertial navigation systems (EGI), communication equipment, GAU-21 .50 caliber machine guns, mission planning systems, and other support items.
“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to US national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability,” the DSCA announcement said.
This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives, and will improve the Israeli Air Force’s capability to transport armored vehicles, personnel, and equipment to support distributed operations.
Powered by three General Electric T-408 engines, the CH-53K can lift more than 36,000 pounds and can carry 30 passengers or troops.
The CH-53K King Stallion is also being acquired by the US Marine Corps, which plans on buying 200 of the all-new heavy-lift helicopters. The service expects to deploy them by 2023-2024.
Israel will have to receive its King Stallions around the same time, as the Yasurs will be reaching the end of their service life by 2025.